Volume 74, Number 27 | November 10 - 16, 2004

Chelsea neighbors want Viscaya nightclub shut down

By Albert Amateau

Residential and business neighbors of Viscaya, the trendy Chelsea dance club and lounge, last week asked Community Board 4 for help in shutting the club down because rowdy patrons, double- and triple-parked limos and the relentless pounding of music have made weekends in the neighborhood unbearable.

The board, which for more than a year has been vainly trying to convince owners of the club on Seventh Ave. between 21st and 22nd Sts. to clean up their act, responded with a resolution to the State Liquor Authority to revoke Viscaya’s liquor license. The board is also asking the Police Department’s Legal Affairs Division and the Mayor’s Office of Midtown Enforcement to move to close the club.

“It’s basically outright war between us. We’re doing everything we can to close them down,” said Kevin Kossi, head of the Board 4’s Business Licenses and Permits Committee.

Back in October 2002, representatives of the club owners, the brothers Bobby and Rico Malta and their associate Demy Partridge, went to the board committee for approval of a liquor licenses for what they described as a small restaurant and bar with space in the rear for private parties.

But the owners, doing business as Jade on Seventh, Inc., have been running a “rowdy loud dance club” that as yet has no cabaret license, the board resolution said.

“I’m 15 floors above across the street,” said Bruce Mayron, a neighbor who testified at the Nov. 4 community board meeting. “At 2:30 and until after 4 in the morning the limousines pull up and honk. There are hundreds of apartments within earshot,” said Mayron, calling for a liquor license revocation.

Lien Corey, who lives in an apartment that shares a wall with the club, said that by the middle of the week, “it’s nervous breakdown time,” anticipating what she called a “a catastrophic weekend.” Her son, now 7 years old, has been subject to the din for more than a year. “It’s not good for him,” said Corey.

“Thursday night is a big night. I’m up at 3 or 4 a.m. hearing the boom boom boom all night long,” said Gail Moskowitz, a resident of a second-floor apartment at 201 W. 21st St. near the corner of Seventh Ave. “They’re drinking, fighting and everything else. We’re up against a rock in this neighborhood,” Moskowitz said.

Bill Borak, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, presented a petition by the council calling for padlocking the club. “We’re asking you to do whatever you can to have Viscaya club closed,” he said. He began describing antisocial behavior but stopped short, saying, “I don’t want to get grotesque.”

However, other neighbors said that patrons urinate, defecate on the street and engage in sex in the cars and in doorways in the neighborhood.

Pamela Wolfe, a resident of Chelsea for 48 years and a founder of the West 200 Block Association, which includes blocks between Seventh and Eighth Aves., said that residents west of Seventh Ave. were kept awake by screaming motorcycles. “With all the wonderful things happening in the neighborhood, we shouldn’t have to put up with this,” she said, referring to the Hudson River Park under construction on the waterfront and the planned conversion of the former High Line freight railroad into an elevated park.

“They came to us as a restaurant and bar, but beginning at midnight the cars and people come for the four corners around the club until four in the morning. You can’t go out in the street after they begin operating,” said Leslie Lewis, a resident of a loft at 162 W. 21st St. “I saw a man on a motorcycle who crashed into the back of a car last year and died. I see underage kids coming out of the place drunk,” she went on.

Patrick Weaver, owner of a building in back of Viscaya and operator of a sound and video editing and transcription service, says he works late but noise from the club makes it impossible to work.

Michelle Breier, representing Red Rose, a firm that records and markets music and video discs on the floor above Viscaya, said the club makes too much noise for Red Rose to conduct its business, much of which is done around midnight. “We spent $250,000 to renovate our loft space, based on how Viscaya described their business,” Breier said, recalling the business plan the club proclaimed in the fall of 2002. “We call police and they say, Call the cabaret people,” she added. “Cabaret people” apparently refers to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which regulates cabaret licenses that allow dancing in nightclubs.

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